Discovering Scottish farming
by Ann van Engelen
Bridget Henderson has always wanted to learn more about her Scottish heritage, and thanks to the highly sort after NZ Young Farmers exchange with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers she will travel from the South Island to fulfil her dream.
The 25-year-old helps on her family’s 280 cow dairy farm and works at the nearby Farmlands store. Her adventure begins in June, and as part of the experience, she will attend the world-renowned Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.
“I will stay with a number of rural families and gain a broader understanding of their agriculture and the challenges faced by the country’s agri-food producers,” says Bridget.
“We have hosted several young farmers from Scotland, and I am excited to experience the things they talked about. People say there are strong similarities between the two countries and I am hoping there might be some useful practices I can bring back to the South Island.
“We also have sheep, and I want to gather as much knowledge about cropping, sheep and beef, dairying and grazing units as possible. My long-term goal is to become a technical field adviser or an independent farm consultant.”
Bridget has a bachelor of commerce majoring in farm management from Lincoln University. She has completed rural servicing papers through Primary ITO, and her family are registered raw milk providers. “Our herd is wintered on the 140-hectare farm, with young stock grazed on a support block.”
Bridget has also worked in Australia and is keen to use her experiences to help raise awareness of where food comes from.
“I am surprised how many people do not know the pasture to plate story behind what they eat. I love seeing the reaction from people, especially young children who don’t realise cows eat grass and produce the milk, which ends up in the supermarket. They think it comes from a bottle and have no comprehension it comes from a cow.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what Scottish farmers do. They have so much more history than us, and there are little things that we take for granted that are big to them. They also look at livestock totally different and breed more for looks and style whereas we breed for dual purpose.
“After the exchange, I will travel to Ireland, Wales and England and hope to visit some universities to see their trial research and what could be used here in farming for the future.”